Jesu/Sun Kil Moon - s/t LP
Label: Caldo Verde
Mark Kozelek opens his Sun Kil Moon album, a collaboration with Justin Broadrick working as Jesu, by saying "good morning" before taking us through a number of his days and nights. It's a romantic collection of songs, as well as a tender and sad one, but this time around Kozelek sounds less alone. Even when he has a full band, it can feel like he's playing a guitar by himself in a room, but Jesu/Sun Kil Moon comes off like a true collaboration. Broadrick and Kozelek are in fact longtime friends and admirers of each other's work: Jesu's 2009 album Opiate Sun was released on Kozelek's Caldo Verde imprint; in 2013, Kozelek covered Godflesh's "Like Rats" and a year later he mentioned Broadrick by name in his song, "The Possum."
"Kozelek hasn't necessarily "gone metal" here, but he's definitely using his voice in different ways – he yells, he howls, he screams. The gentle guitar crunch and cymbal crashes seem to wake Kozelek up a bit, shaking him from the more soporific spoken patterns of his last couple of releases. And sometimes Broadrick's backdrop drowns out Kozelek, which offers a nice dynamic shift. His gorgeous arrangements of crunchy guitars, tender synthesizers, and soft drums are dotted by the voices of Will Oldham, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock, the members of Low, and Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, among others. And while the arrangements could stand alone on their own, there's still plenty of focus on Kozelek's lyrics. The words remain stream-of-consciousness, moving from the profound to the mundane and back, and Kozelek's still in the same emotional mode: He's facing mortality, and the mortality of everyone around him. - Brandon Stosuy / Pitchfork